I am thinking about a real hero of the faith today. Chuck Colson just passed away a few days ago at the age of 80. The best heroes usually have elements of redemption in their story and Colson certainly fit that description.
Colson was a trusted adviser to Richard Nixon, and what many called his hatchet man in the midst of the Watergate scandal. He had lived an admittedly self focused, driven, and power hungry, albeit moral life before Watergate came along. Colson made a profession of faith just prior to entering prison for his crimes in Watergate. A good friend introduced him to the faith and to C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Many at the time dismissed it as “convenient timing” to find Jesus, but Colson’s life was never the same. By the time he was done with his journey last Thursday, many of his most ardent cynics had to acknowledge his remarkable life and contribution.
Colson, while in prison developed a profound burden for the plight of the prisoner and the terrible recidivism rates in our penal system. But instead of just theorizing about it as most do, Colson founded Prison Fellowship. Their approach to introducing prisoners to a life of faith and hope literally has and will continue to change thousands of lives. Prisons which allowed Prison Fellowship to flourish found recidivism rates dramatically improving.
Colson’s service and sacrifice with Prison Fellowship earned him a voice among Evangelical leaders, and Colson always used that voice to promote Christ and the Church rather than himself. That is a rare quality these days. He was willing to say things that the church did not want to hear, even things his friends did not want to hear. One of my favorite Colson quotes is “I don’t think the job of the church is to make people happy. I think it’s to make them holy.”
Thank you Chuck Colson for showing us how to get up after we have fallen down, and how much difference a life of faith can make when it is backed up with real action.
You Shall Know the Truth